A talented writer and a fantastic story.

GROUNDED

Declan Kelly returns in this sequel to the Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year Taking Flight (2014).

Desolate when his cousin's horse, Flight, is sold, 18-year-old Declan jumps at a chance to take a job in a top German showjumping yard. He's somewhat sorry to leave his girlfriend, Seaneen, behind but not at all reluctant to leave behind his recovering-alcoholic mother and his hardscrabble life in West Belfast council housing. Before Declan can do more than apply for a passport, Seaneen turns up pregnant. Declan gives up his chance, determined, with his head if not his heart, to do the right thing. His life, however, has never given him a clear picture of the right thing, and Seaneen grows increasingly impatient with his emotional distance. Meanwhile, Declan rescues an abandoned, badly abused mare, which gives him the perfect excuse to spend more time at the barn. A neighbor boy, Cian, reminds him of himself in his struggling pre-riding days. Declan can't fix Cian, but he tries unsuccessfully to get the boy's mother to intervene. When events come to a horrifying climax, Declan begins to understand the sort of person he wants to be. Declan's staccato first-person voice vividly conveys his confusion, desires, failures, and decency, sentence length and syntax skillfully modulating according to his mood. Wilkinson portrays complicated situations with nuanced truth and spare elegance.

A talented writer and a fantastic story. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55455-329-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Exciting concept; underwhelming execution.

THE DARK TIDE

Once a year in the city-island of Caldella, the powerful Witch Queen leaves her Water Palace to find her true love, whom she must drown to appease the dark tide of the ever hungry ocean.

Thomas Lin is the only boy who’s ever escaped—by convincing the last Witch Queen to drown herself instead. Ever since then, her sister, Eva, who is the new Witch Queen, has been unable to appease the dark tide—she’s felt nothing for the boys she’s sacrificed. When Thomas is chosen a second time, Lina, a town girl with a crush, decides to rescue Thomas from the Water Palace and volunteer as sacrifice to make sure both Thomas and her own brother stay safe. As Lina and Eva spend more time together, they realize that they have a surprising amount in common: their love for their siblings, their desperation to change the sacrificial system, and their desire for one another. The close third-person narration is focalized alternately through Lina and Eva, and although Lina’s perspective provides greater depth, the narrative voice for each is removed, with more telling than showing. Characters are racially ambiguous but often implied through skin tone to be nonwhite. Diverse sexualities and gender expressions are also implied, but heteroromanticism is disappointingly the default.

Exciting concept; underwhelming execution. (Fantasy. 16-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0998-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Few chills and even less logic.

BENT HEAVENS

Can Liv put the pieces of her life back together after her father’s mental breakdown?

In rural Bloughton, Iowa, Liv takes solace in the cross country team and the idea that she will be off to college before too long. Three years ago, her father, the high school’s former English and drama teacher, vanished only to return naked and talking about alien abduction. He disappeared for good eight months later. Liv and her friend Doug check the elaborate traps her father built in the woods during those eight months every Sunday. The teacher who replaced him decides to stage the same musical that was her father’s swan song, and after getting in trouble for an outburst over her insensitivity, Liv decides to destroy the traps…but discovers that one has caught an alien. After hiding the horrifying creature in her father’s shed, they discover it has her father’s compass. In anger, Liv attacks the beast and then she and Doug torture it repeatedly as revenge for her missing father…but the alien is not what they perceive him to be, and as the truth is revealed, the horror mounts. Kraus’ (Blood Sugar, 2019, etc.) newest horror fantasy (there is no science here) might inspire more anger than horror as the protagonists respond to otherness with violence. Outrage will likely be followed by laughter at the stagy, manipulative, over-the-top conclusion. Most characters seem to be white.

Few chills and even less logic. (Horror. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15167-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more